Somaliaís most important festivals are religious. Probably the most important is Ramadan, which marks the month that the Koran was revealed. Since the Muslim calendar follows the lunar cycle, Ramadan occurs at a different time each year. Somalis decorate their homes with lights and flowers before Ramadan begins. All adults and children past puberty mark the month by fasting during the day. At sunset, families gather for afur, the breaking of the fast. Special foods such as dates, samosas and barley soup are eaten for afur; afterwards, people visit their mosque to pray or observe Tarawih, a special prayer said each night of Ramadan. Between midnight and dawn, people may also eat another meal called suhur. Village announcers or drummers wake people so they can have this meal before the dayís fast begins.

The largest Muslim celebration, Id al Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan and continues for three days. Around 8:00 a.m. people attend a special prayer. Families get dressed up in new clothes for a round of visits, and children receive gifts of money at each house. People wish each other id mubarak, meaning "have a happy and blessed holiday." Everybody who can donates money to the poor, and at midday there is a special feast.

Id al Adha commemorates Abrahamís offer to sacrifice his son Isaac. As with Id al Fitr, children particularly enjoy this day. In cities, amusement parks are set up and shops have special displays of clothes, toys and sweets. Those who can afford it sacrifice an animal and give its meat to the poor.

Somalis celebrate their new year at the end of July. In rural areas, people hold a festival called the dab-shid or fire lighting. People build bonfires and in some places perform stick fights and dances. Robdoon is a ritual performed in times of drought and asks God to bring rain. Religious leaders read the Koran aloud at the locations where rain is desired and may also make an animal sacrifice, with the meat distributed to the poor.

May 1 Labour Day
June Mouloud, Birth of the Prophet
June 26 Independence Day
July 1 Foundation of the Republic
July 28 Dab-shid

  Did you know?
After a marriage, Somalis hold dances for three to seven consecutive days.